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Working Across Boundaries: Making Collaboration Work in Government and Nonprofit Organizations

ISBN: 978-0-7879-6799-4
336 pages
February 2003, Jossey-Bass
Working Across Boundaries: Making Collaboration Work in Government and Nonprofit Organizations (0787967998) cover image


Working Across Boundaries is a practical guide for nonprofit and government professionals who want to learn the techniques and strategies of successful collaboration. Written by Russell M. Linden, one of the most widely recognized experts in organizational change, this no nonsense book shows how to make collaboration work in the real world. It offers practitioners a framework for developing collaborative relationships and shows them how to adopt strategies that have proven to be successful with a wide range of organizations. Filled with in-depth case studies—including a particularly challenging case in which police officers and social workers overcome the inherent differences in their cultures to help abused children—the book clearly shows how organizations have dealt with the hard issues of collaboration. Working Across Boundaries includes
  • Information on how to select potential partners
  • Guidelines for determining what kinds of projects lend themselves to collaboration and which do not
  • Suggestions on how to avoid common pitfalls of collaboration
  • Strategies proven to work consistently
  • The phases most collaborative projects go through
  • The nature of collaborative leadership
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Table of Contents

Tables, Figures, and Exhibits.



The Author.

Part I: Working Across Boundaries.

1. Why Collaborate? And Why Now?

2. One Example of CollaborationThat Makes a Difference.

3. The Challenges of Successful Collaboration.

Part II: A Framework for Collaborationin the Real World.

4. A Framework for Collaboration.

5. Getting the Basics Right.

6. Forming Open, Trusting Relationships Amongthe Principals.

7. Developing High Stakes.

8. Creating a Constituency for Collaboration.

9. Building Collaborative Leadership.

Part III: Key Collaboration Issues and Tasks.

10. Phases in the Collaboration Journey.

11. More Keys to Successful Collaboration.

12. Collaboration Within a Single Organization.

13. Toward a Collaborative Culture.


A. Four Methods That Promote Collaboration.

B. Some Questions and Answers ConcerningCollaboration.

C. Collaborative Assessment Tool.

D. The Research Base for This Book.


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Author Information

Russell M. Linden is a management educator specializing in organizational change. He is an adjunct faculty member at the University of Virginia, University of Maryland, and Federal Executive Institute. For over twenty years he has helped government, nonprofit, and private sector organizations develop leadership, foster innovation, and improve performance. He writes a column on management innovations for the Virginia Review, and is the author of Seamless Government (Jossey-Bass, 1994). Clients have included the National Geographic Society, several intelligence agencies, the U.S. Department of State, two state attorneys generals, two foreign governments, and many nonprofit and government agencies.
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"Everywhere I go these days, people are struggling to get public organizations to collaborate. It's a difficult challenge, but thankfully Russ Linden has studied what actually works in the field. Linden's book is practical, very clear, and truly indispensable for anyone who needs to work across organizational boundaries to get the job done."— David Osborne, coauthor, Reinventing Government and The Reinventors Fieldbook

"This is a wonderful book! For the novice collaborator, it offers inspiration, stories, and clear directions, all in the helpful, encouraging voice of a good coach who never doubts for a minute that you can do it, and that it is worth doing."
— Joey Rodger, president and CEO, Urban Libraries Council

"As we increase work across boundaries, Lindens book provides an important framework for collaboration and excellent examples of the power of this approach for practitioners."
— Robert J. ONeill Jr., executive director, International City/County Management Association and former president, National Academy of Public Administration

"The ideas contained in this book have far-reaching potential to help governments and nonprofit agencies gain new efficiencies and effectiveness that can benefit our communities."
— Charles F. Gerhards, CIO, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

"Working Across Boundaries is a glimpse into the future of how government managers in the twenty-first century will work through networks, partnerships, and collaboration . . . Russ Linden paints a picture of the dynamics to which leaders will need to respond in order to get program results. Practitioners will be able to pick up this book and start applying its principles immediately."
— John Kamensky, director, managing for results practice, PwC Consulting; former deputy director, National Partnership for Reinventing Government

"Russ Linden has a knack for writing on precisely the right subject at the most appropriate time. Now he's done it again. Governments at all levels are under pressure to break down both internal and external barriers . . . . Linden writes in a compelling way to make his powerful points . . . . He is right on target."
— Peter Harkness, publisher, Governing Maazine

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